Thursday, April 15, 1999

2 day Euro-Med conference opens in Stuttgart, Germany. (MENA 4/15, al-Quds 4/17 in WNC 4/19; MM 4/16; al-Ayyam 4/17 in WNC 4/21; PR 4/23; al-Wasat 4/26 in WNC 4/30)

Most of the 81 diplomatic missions in Israel, including the EU and U.S., decline an invitation fr. Israeli FM Sharon to participate in a 2 hr. "study tour" of the West Bank on 4/16 to gain a better understanding of Israeli security needs in advance of final status talks with the PA. (MM 4/15)

In response to death of IDF soldier 4/12, IDF reoccupies Arnun, outside its self-declared security zone, this time setting up SLA camp inside the village. Lebanese PM Salim al-Huss asks France, the UN, the U.S. to intervene with Israel. U.S. suggests that Lebanese army be deployed in Arnun, but Huss refuses, saying army will not be used as a "screen to defend" the IDF. (RL 4/15, AFP, IRNA 4/16 in WNC 4/19; MM, NYT 4/16; NYT, WP 4/17; RL, Xinhua 4/20 in WNC 4/21; MM 4/21; MEI 4/23, 5/7) (see 2/28)

Shas head Deri is sentenced to 4 yrs. in prison. Analysts believe the ruling could improve PM Netanyahu's chances for reelection by rallying Shas supporters to his cause; one of Netanyahu's campaign promises has been to aid Israelis who feel marginalized by what he describes as the "elites," including judges. Deri will remain free pending appeal, may remain party leader even if jailed. (MM 4/15; MM, NYT, WP, WT 4/16; JP, MEI 4/23) (see 3/17)

3 UN comms. on Iraq (disarmament, sanctions, missing-in-action issues) present their first reports to an informal mtg. of the UN Security Council (UNSC). UNSC mbrs. are still divided on how best to proceed with monitoring (e.g., whether or not to lift sanctions, dissolve UNSCOM). (MEI 4/23)

IDF begins clearing 300 dunams of Palestinian land, olive groves held by Bayt Dujn, al-Sawiyya villages for construction of new bypass road to Ariel settlement. In other incidents, settlers place 8 trailers on hilltop nr. Karnei Shomron settlement, begin expansion of Elkana settlement onto some 200 dunams of Palestinian land held by Mashah village. (al-Ayyam 4/16 in WNC 4/23)